The City of Pawtucket Awarded $670,000 from RIDEM Grant and EOHHS for John Street Park Enhancements

 The City of Pawtucket Awarded $670,000 from    RIDEM Grant and EOHHS for John Street Park Enhancements
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PAWTUCKET, RI (June 5, 2024) – The City of Pawtucket has received a total of $670,000 for the John Street Splash Pad & Playground Improvements. The total amount is combined funding from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and from the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) through a pilot program conducted by the Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone (HEZ).
The Participatory Budgeting pilot program gave residents the opportunity to make decisions about how to improve health and well-being in the community. The Pawtucket Central Falls HEZ in total was allocated $385,000 and asked the community for ways to spend that money to improve the health of residents. After more than 11 projects were developed and estimated, the community voted for their top two choices. The John Street Splash Pad was a big winner and received $270,000 for the project. The remaining Participatory Budgeting funds will support a mental health anti-stigma campaign in Central Falls.
“The community got together and voted for the project they wanted most that would contribute to the good health of their families,” said Mayor Donald Grebien. “We wanted to expand on that idea and take it another step – or two – forward and deliver a splash pad and playground improvements that would bring joy and recreation to more families in the area, so we applied for additional funding to support a bigger vision for the park.”
The John Street project was selected to receive a $400,000 RIDEM Outdoor Recreation Grant. Governor Dan McKee announced this round of funding at the end of April, which awarded $2 million in grants to 11 municipalities to develop or renovate outdoor recreational facilities. The City’s project stood out among 41 applications, underscoring Pawtucket’s commitment to enhancing local recreational facilities for residents of all ages.
The RIDEM grant will be used together with the $270,000 in funding from the Participatory Budgeting program to further transform John Street Park. This combined funding will enable significant improvements, including the installation of a new splash pad, upgraded playground equipment, and other essential site enhancements.
“We are incredibly grateful to RIDEM for its generous support,” said Mayor Donald Grebien, “This funding will allow us to create a vibrant, safe, and enjoyable recreational space for our community. Enhancing John Street Park is a significant step towards improving the quality of life for our residents, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact these improvements will have.”
Parks and Recreation Director John Blais also commented on the grant, saying, “The enhancements at John Street Park will provide families and children with a fantastic place to play and enjoy the outdoors. This project reflects our dedication to creating accessible and engaging recreational spaces for everyone in Pawtucket.”
“The participatory budgeting program done through the HEZ engaged resident leaders through every step of the process so that solutions identified were truly community-driven,” said Liz Moreira, Assistant Program Officer with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Rhode Island, the backbone entity for the Pawtucket Central Falls HEZ. “This program went beyond that and provided funding to support those ideas. Many thanks to the City to going above and beyond and seeking additional funding to make it even better.”
The concept of Participatory Budgeting originated in Brazil in 1989 and has been successfully implemented in U.S. cities, including New York, Boston, and Chicago. Central Falls was the first city in Rhode Island to launch Participatory Budgeting in 2019.  There are now more than 10,000 participatory budgeting processes around the world, in cities, housing authorities, schools, and other public agencies where the community votes on how to spend available funding.
“At EOHHS and the agencies under our umbrella, we are committed to active engagement opportunities for the communities we serve,” said Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Ana Novais. “What makes participatory budgeting different from traditional budgeting and decision-making processes is that it creates intentional space at the table for those who experience systemic racism and income inequality. It gives community members true decision-making power over real money.”
For more information about the John Street Splash Pad & Playground Improvements and other city projects, please visit the City of Pawtucket’s official website or contact the Parks and Recreation Department.

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